Please note: the prize draw is now closed.
This month’s Silver Travel Cook Club features a recipe for Bulgar Pilaf with Chickpeas, Aubergines and Tomatoes inspired by sponsor Noble Caledonia’s “September in the Mediterranean” cruise aboard MS Hebridean Sky.
And you could win a copy of Med: A Cook Book by Claudia Roden.
Claudia Roden is credited with revolutionising Western attitudes to Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food. Over thirty years on from her first Mediterranean cookbook, Claudia shares the sun-soaked simplicity of the Mediterranean with new recipes for effortless, everyday cooking. This is how Claudia cooks for friends and family – always putting flavour first, beautiful ingredients, fuss-free cooking, relaxed eating. From Provence to the Levant, Andalusia to Morocco, explore the many and varied flavours of the Mediterranean as Claudia shares a life’s worth of travelling and stories along with the food she cooks now.
Med: A Cook Book by Claudia Roden was The Times / Sunday Times “Food Book of the Year” 2021 and shortlisted for Fortnum and Mason Cookery “Book of the Year”.
September in the Mediterranean Cruise
There is no shortage of cruise vessels plying the major ports and cities of the Mediterranean, but few are inclined to focus on the islands as Noble Caledonia has done with this delightful journey from Mallorca to Naples aboard MS Hebridean Sky.
The voyage is designed as if it were to be undertaken on a small private yacht, staying away from the larger commercial centres and focusing on some of the most picturesque and interesting places in the region. Late summer is the perfect time for the voyage when the crowds of August have dispersed but the weather is ideal for touring and sightseeing. Noble Caledonia have created an itinerary to combine time in the islands of the Balearics, Sardinia, Corsica, Elba and Ponza, the largest of the Pontine Islands and one of Italy’s best kept secrets, all of which are easy to visit individually but difficult to combine independently. In addition to exploring fascinating ports of call, passengers will have the pleasure of cruising aboard MS Hebridean Sky, with just over 100 passengers, you are able to visit atmospheric ports and villages which the big ships cannot access, travelling a less well trodden path across the Mediterranean.
The 8-night voyage of discovery from Mallorca to the Bay of Naples aboard MS Hebridean Sky leaves on 18th September 2023.
And for a taste of the Mediterranean, why not try this recipe at home?
Recipe: Bulgar Pilaf with Chickpeas, Aubergines and Tomatoes
This rich Levantine combination is immensely satisfying, with layers of flavour and aroma. The optional halloumi cheese makes it a meal in itself. As with anything cooked with oil, leftovers can be eaten cold – but not, in this case, if there is halloumi, as it becomes rubbery when cold.
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 aubergines (trimmed and cut into 3cm cubes)
- 300 grams cherry or Santini tomatoes
- 2 onions (chopped)
- 3 cloves of garlic (chopped)
- 350 grams bulgur wheat
- 400 grams tin chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
- 1½ – 2 tablespoons tomato puree
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- a good pinch of chilli pepper
- 500 millilitres boiling water
- 2 x 250g packets halloumi cheese (optional – omit for vegans)
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- salt and black pepper
- Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a sauté pan with a tight-fitting lid and put in the aubergines. Cook over medium heat, turning the cubes over with a spatula so that all have a few minutes to get browned, add salt and pepper and put the lid back on so that they steam in their own juice for about 15 minutes. Put in the cherry tomatoes, turn them over with the aubergines, then continue to cook, covered, for about 8 minutes, until they are soft and begin to release some juice.
- In a large pan, fry the onions in the remaining oil over medium heat for 8 minutes, stirring often, until soft and beginning to colour. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until the aroma rises and it begins to colour. Take off the heat and stir in the bulgur and chickpeas.
- Put the tomato purée into a measuring jug and add the cinnamon, allspice, cumin, chilli pepper and some salt. Pour in the boiling water and stir vigorously, then pour this into the pan with the bulgur and mix well. Bring to the boil, cover, and cook over low heat for 15 minutes. Taste for salt: you will probably need more.
- If adding halloumi, cut the cheese into 3cm cubes and cook quickly over medium–high heat in a non-stick frying pan with a tiny amount of oil, turning the pieces to brown them all over. Mix into the bulgur.
- Turn the bulgur into a large baking dish and mix in the aubergines and tomatoes. Serve with the extra virgin olive oil drizzled over.
How to win a copy of Med: A Cook Book by Claudia Roden
Noble Caledonia’s September in the Mediterranean Cruise focuses on the islands.
Comment below to tell us about a Mediterranean island that you have enjoyed and what made it special.
A winner will be chosen in early September 2022.
The competition closes on 31 August 2022.
Malta is the Mediterranean Island for me. The island I have been visiting since I was a child and therefore full of happy happy memories, finding hidden coves, exploring the coast line, days spent on the beach enjoying the sand and warm clear sea, evenings under the stars.
As I grew older an addition to the coast was included and Maltese history needed to be explored. So much history packed into a tiny island. So many historic sights to be discovered.
Then boat trips to Comino and Gozo with packed lunches of Hobs Bizet. It might be poor man’s food but oh so delicious. And thinking of food what could be better than pastizzi for breakfast and oh, Maltese bread, the best in the world. That’s it, another holiday there to be booked. More wonderful memories to make.
I visited Kefalonia near the end of the summer season but it was still hot, sunny and picture perfect. We stayed in Asos and visited the other small towns like Fiskardo and took a boat trip across the bay to Argostoli which featured in ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’ by Louis de Bernieres. There are many little coves with perfect sandy beaches and azure blue sea. We admired the antics of the goats who climbed vertical rocks to forage for food. From the north of the island we could see Ithaca, home to Odysseus who took ten years to return there after his many adventures following the Trojan War. We stayed in a bed and breakfast pension which gave us the opportunity to have dinner at many of the island’s restaurants and tried to replicate those typical Greek dishes when we came home with limited success. It really needed the sun too. We will never forget the wonderful Greek honey available every morning at breakfast. There was always a queue for the honeypot.
The warmth and the welcome from tge natives is incredible. They are a very unique and welcoming nation. They may be small in area but they are World-beating in their warmth and their welcome. They are so good they could almost be Irish
The food, the scenery and the History is something that everybody should experience at least once in their lifetime.
Loved our first visit to Malta aboard P&O’s then Arcadia (since scrappede after becoming CMV’s Columbus). We spent the morning strolling through the old town and listened to a band concert on the hill top overlooking the harbour. We walked back to the ship and were treated to a tour of the bridge. One of our first cruises and thoroughly enjoyed every one since!!
Corsica for me – a sublime port of call on a Med Cruise. The air was fragrant! Too brief a stay. I’d love to go back.
Skiathos Greece was so v pretty,taverns on the beach, kittens on the sand too, fera cheese salads with oil,brown crusty bread & red wine- great holiday
I second that – Malta is also my dream destination and spent many many holidays there. The people are wonderful and friendly – food is out of this world and of course the climate.
Crete in Greece was absolutely divine – I really enjoyed it there! Turquoise blue seas and freshly caught fish made the perfect combo – the food alone left me drooling for days – and we did lots of sightseeing which created some very special memories for me!
I worked in Sicily as a nanny for a short while. A lovely country and nice to experience living with a family. The lemons growing outside the ironing room were wonderful. No pips.
Sardinia for me every time, not just for wealthy people but ordinary folk also, just like me!
Fabulous dreamy beaches, where the sand is really THAT white and the sea is really THE bluest blue. Sheer cliffs ensure seclusion, natural style, unroll your beach towel and I promise you, you’ll never want too leave plus a romantic backdrop of bars and boutiques, yachts a plenty.
Gozo Island just off Malta has a fascinating history due to it being inhabited since 5000 BC. Just to stand in the footsteps of my ancestors and look at the sparkling mediterranean was an experience I won’t forget.
Cyprus because of the cuisine, scenery and sad history of division.
Malta is the Mediterranean island for me, such friendly folk, forever grateful to their British cousins. So much history to enjoy, wonderful views and great food!
Cyprus is such a beautiful island and has such safe, clean beaches for the kids – oh, and the food is to die for
I loved Ile Sainte Marguerite off Cannes, France. It is very quiet and there are lovely little beaches to call your own.
Ischia. This enchanting island showcased so much of the real Italy. Beautiful beaches, plenty of history, wonderful scenery and quieter than the more traditional holiday island of Capri. Around every corner was a breathtaking view. Each town was different with Porto being a busy town, whilst Forio was very traditional and Casamicciola Terme offered thermal springs. Boat trips along the coast were magical and of course the first time you see Ischia as you arrive by boat is a lasting memory. Fabulous island with so much to offer.
We spent a week sailing on a cabin charter around the Cyclades and each night moored up at a different island, but my favourite was Amorgos. Ashore we enjoyed galaktoboureko (Greek custard tart), before catching a surprisingly bang-on-time local bus from the harbour up to the chora. Here we discovered a maze of streets and small eateries in tree covered squares and narrow alleys. We ate in Theos, a family run place, where granny took our orders of slow-cooked goat curry. The last bus back was 10pm, so pudding was loukoumades, small, sweet doughnut-like balls coated in honey, eaten onboard. Next time, I’d like to explore more than the food.
Corsica for me. The briefest of stops on a Mediterranean cruise, the very air was fragrant. I’ll definitely return, for a proper stay.
In May 2014 we had a self-catering holiday on the Greek island of Samos. We hadn’t realised that our arrival coincided with the Greek Orthodox Easter so local shops were shut and the mobile baker didn’t come for two days. Fortunately we were staying at Balos Beach where there was (and, I think, still is) an amazing restaurant that stayed open throughout the Easter weekend, called Stella`, the name of the Cypriot lady who started it in 1987. The food was cooked by Stella Antoniou and her son, Kyriakos; Stella’s husband, Nikos, grew the organic fruit and vegetables in the surrounding garden and gave us gifts of lemons from his trees. The food – traditional Greek/Cypriot and more innovative – was absolutely delicious and the best I have eaten on any holiday. We ate lunch and dinner there every day and hearing we could buy nothing for breakfast for two days the family kindly gave us bread baked in their outdoor wood oven; they were an amazing family. Apart from eating, swimming in the apartment’s pool and from the pebbly beach, we walked the surrounding countryside looking for butterflies and wild flowers. It was so idylic that we never did venture further afield so only saw the island from the air (when landing) and from the taxi en route to Balos.
The beautiful island of Menorca holds many fabulous memories of my first holiday with my first and lifetime partner. Quiet sandy beaches, clear sapphire waters, freshly caught fish with new potatoes, an idyllic place to stay in the 1970’s.
Malta seems to be enormously popular with you all but I will have to agree with Yvonne H and say that Crete is my favourite island, mainly as I have a Cretan god-daughter ! so have visited the island many times. I particularly love the West of the island, near Chania. It’s lovely in the spring time, the flowers in the still snow capped mountains stunning, lots of great walks (not just the Samaria Gorge) and celebrating a Greek Easter is also very memorable.
When my eldest daughter was little I always availed myself of the ‘free’ child places to go on holiday. We went to Crete when she was about two and we were in a family run accommodation where the family loved children. She was treated like a princess and given treats by the family. The island was beautiful, the food was delicious and children were stars. One of our best trips.
I have loved reading these comments – makes me want to travel! I had a great experience on the island of Crete. I visited a friend who is a nun in an incredible mountain convent which looks like something from Lord of the rings! I went with the owner of my studio apartments who happened to be a Cantor in the local church. We stopped by a bakery to get an amazing collection of delicious cakes for the nuns. We were welcomed at the convent with spoon sweets made of figs, then invited to lunch. The meal seemed to be almond bread soup with rustic Greek bread, a bread pudding and a little coffee with a sugary sweet…. Lots of carbs! later we listened to them singing out over the mountain – really it was so special.
Cyprus, it had great memories of being young and carefree.
Madeira, it was my late mums favourite place and it was where we spent our last holiday together